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tv   Religion Ethics Newsweekly  PBS  July 28, 2013 10:00am-10:31am PDT

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coming up -- the pope's radical message in brazil. also, kim lawton reports on the sikh american community one year after a mass shooting inside a wisconsin temple that killed six worshippers. and bob on the orthodox jewish of to bey kah kahno kahnb kahni.
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welcome. i'm bob and acker gnatty. large crowds greeted the pope throughout the week as he emphasized his familiar themes of humility and concern for the poor. nearly 1 million pilgrims
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attended the welcoming ceremony. earlier in the week, francis celebrated mass. and he met with patients at a drug rehabilitation facility. the pope also visited a rio slum where he urged people living there not to lose hope. for more on the pope's trip, i'm joined by father tom reese and a visiting scholar at santa clara university. he joins us from california. the pope is quoted as having told young people in brazil that he wants a mess. he wants trouble in the diocese. what's going on? >> well, this is a pope that has really brought excitement to the church. this is a pope who is a pope of poor people, of the slums, and now of young people. and he want does have a
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revolution. he wants people to recognize that the gospel of jesus is revolutionary. it's call for a concern for the poor, former itsy and forgiveness. this is an exciting message that which he's been able to articulate. and it's one that the young people of brazil really found attractive. >> does the pope have a kind of political agenda, some kind of political or policy or economic program to go along with the call for making a mess? >> well, i think what the pope has is a prophetic message, a message that says that people have to turn away from selfishness, surn away from corruption. and that the people who have power and wealth in the world have to be concerned about the poor. he talks about solidarity with the poor.
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n now this is a reef lugsly message. it has political consequences. now he doesn't have a plan. he doesn't have a budget. he's not going say how this should be done, but he's going to hold people's seat to the fire and say this is injure job. this is what you have to be concerned about. this is what i want you to do. >> there was some decades ago, there was liberation theology that was very popular in latin america. is this an outgrowth of that? >> well, people in latin america say that he may not use the word, but he certainly talks the talk. his concern for the poor. his desire to empower the poor to take responsibility and to be part of the community. this is very important for him. he doesn't use the word liberation theology. but his message is very close to
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it. >> but is he socialist? many liberation threologians wee marxist. >> no. he would reject any turn to violence revolution. what he want is a peaceful revolution. he wants a revolution of love, compassion, concern. where people's hearts are changed. and as a result of this change of heart, we have new programs that help the poor, that get jobs for all these young people who are unemployed. this is the kind of revolution he wants. >> and in the process, do something about the huge growth there's been in recent years, of catholic, former catholics, becoming evangelical protesta s protestants. >> i think he realizes that they've been successful because
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they've been teaching the gospel. this is what people find attractive, especially young people. it's going to be scary for some old people. and for some people who, you know, want to hold onto their wealth and power. he's saying that this has to be shared with the people, especially with the poor. >> father tom reese, many thanks. ♪ in other news, prayer services were held in spain this week for the more than 75 people who died in a train crash, the site of a popular catholic pill gamage. many were traveling to the city to celebrate the feast day of st. james the apostle whose bones are said to be buried in
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the ca thookcathedral there. in washington, people were called to pray for the reform. they want to pass legislation that the securesrdernd provides a pathway to citizenship. at a press conference they said immigration reform is a matter of moral emergency. >> we're here as a group of believers in jesus christ who we want them to know we're praying for them, and for justice and compassion in a system that is broken. also in washington, faith groups renewed call does close the guantanamo bay prison in cuba. religious leaders fasted. as they broke the fast, they described guantanamo as an open, moral wound. >> the practice of torture.
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the degradation of pumen beings in body minds and spirit runs counter to our calling for a more just, compassionate and peaceful world that honors all of god's creation. august 5th marks the anniversary of an a shooting. white supremacist michael page killed worshippers and wounded others before killing himself. we spoke about how they move beyond the tragedy with a new sense of identity and hope. >> at this camp in rockville, maryland, sikh american kids come here. this is one of the organizers.
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>> the whole focus of the camp is to really prepare these youngsters to become full connected with their heritage and so much connected with the history that they don't feel any sense of inferiority when they go out in the world. >> reporter: that can be a difficult message when sikh americans continue to face discrimination and misunderstanding because of their sur b their turbans and beards. a mass shooting happened in oak creek, wisconsin. >> i think in the years after september 11th, the tragedy was just how normalized racism had become. so much so that when oak creek happened it was devastating. it was demoralizing. but for many it wasn't a shock. >> the close knit sikh american
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community stelt the massacre deeply. >> we felt that all the bullets which were fired at the sikhs and at the temple, they all hit our hearts. >> reporter: but the one year later sikhs across the board say good has come out of tragedy. >> it's about how a community rose to bring people together to heal and organize. >> reporter: valerie is a filmmaker and director of the interfaith group. her family came to america 100 years ago. she says her first reaction to news of the shooting was despair. then her phone started to ring. >> people from all different colors and faiths were reaching out to me personally to tell me that they were with us. and this happened across the country. there was an outpouring of love and support that the sikh community had never experienced
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before. >> reporter: numerous vigils and events were held in solidarity with the community. it was a source of encouragement for sikhs but also an opportunity to educate people about their religion. many sikhs say the oak creek tragedy brought them closer to their faith, that they needed to maintain an optimism and hope. valerie was there when they opened a temple after the shooting. >> when the fbi handed over the temple to the community when it was still a crime scene. when there was still blood in the carpets, when there were bullet holes in the glass and walls, the community didn't wait a moment before they turned on the prayers and they began to clean up and rebuild it before my eyes. i saw this everlasting hope and optimism in the community that day. >> reporter: she says she was
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also profoundly moved by how the oak creek six responded. >> they gathered together to pray. and they named each person who was killed in the tragedy. prayed for each of the victims. and then they named the gunman. and we as a community prayed for the soul of michael page. and i think in that moment i as a young sikh american woman felt myself deeply connected to a faith condition that responds to the most egregious atrocities with the spirit of love. >> reporter: leaders say since the shooting there's a new sense of identity in the community. >> a lot of young people, and a lot of sikhs have come out more stronger because they felt that this is the time my community needs me. rar young campers here say they take pride in being a sikh. >> i'm actually really proud of my religion. when i tell people i'm a sikh i
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tell them what soiks are all about. >> reporter: others try to combat bullying at school and counter the kids who call him osama. >> you tell them i'm not a muslim. i'm a sikh. this is what we believe, this is who we are, and we're in no way affiliated with any terrorist group. that ignorance keep spreading and eventually you have every sikh kid getting made fun of. >> reporter: the sikh coalition and other groups began a campaign to have the government include sikhs in u.s. hate crime statistics. >> i remember standing with the police chief as he was filling out the form. he showed me the form and said there's no way for me to check-off the deaths that happened down the street. there's no category for me to count the lives of sikh americans that died.
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this must change. >> reporter: this mother became the first sikh ever testify. >> i want to combat hate. not just against sikhs but against all people. senators, i know what happened at oak creek was not an isolated incident. i fear it may happen again. if we don't stand up and do something. >> reporter: that law was finally passed in june. now the sikh community has a new campaign urging the u.s. military to change its 1980s policies banning service members from wearing turbans or uncut hair. this major spent two years getting an exception to the rule. he served as a doctor in afghanistan and earned a bronze star. >> i can tell you with 100% assurance that none of my fellow soldiers could care less that i was wearing a turban or beard
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while i was treating their wounds. all that mattered was whether i was an asset to the mission. >> reporter: sikhs have a long history. having a turba and unshornair is part of their religious uniform. >> it's give length to adultery. so it is really a fundamental part to who we are. and just as you would not expect anybody to say cheat on his wife in order to get into the military, you cannot also expect somebody to cut their hair or lose their turban. >> reporter: he fashioned his own turban which allowed him to meet military requirements for helmets. two other sikhs have received accommodations to serve but hundreds of others have not. he says changing the rules will have an impact beyond the military. >> if the military can say no,
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what happens is police, fire, you know, ems, all first responder agencies can say you know what? military can say no. so we're also going to say no. and we've seen that. >> reporter: service is an important part of the sikh faith. and to commemorate the one year anniversary, many sikhs have planned special dates of service. >> you can come to us with any problem and we will help you. we will willingly help you. and that's our duty as a sikh. that is the duty for every sikh. and in that way, we shouldn't be judged by how we look but by how we act as sikhs. >> reporter: many sikhs say those traditions and beliefs have helped their community move beyond oak creek with confidence and strength. >> even though we still face profiling and hate violence, despite all of this, i still have deep hope, because i look to the resilience and courage
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embodied in our young people. and i know that this generation, generations before it will carry on the banner of the sikh spirit and the american spirit for years to come. >> reporter: i'm kim lawton, reporting. we have a report from bob faw food on an orthodox jewish ash test named tobi kahn. his work is contemporary, small flowers. it may seem too abstract for some tastes. but for kahn his work reflects a spiritual journey, very much including the power of art to help bring peace to people at the end of their lives. >> reporter: the brush strokes are deft.thi perfected.
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>> i like the way it looks like the sky this is darker. this is lighter. >> reporter: in his studio, cluttered with a forest of wooden blocks, power tool, paints and brushes, tobi kahn creates painting, sculptures, furniture and large installations. his work was selected for a group show at the guggenheim knew sie museum. i is also known for his spirit art and what he calls his sacred objects like this ceremonial box. >> you open it and you let all your negative thoughts disappear. >> reporter: tobi kahn, the child of holocaust survivors creates jewish art like thise ts adornment for a torah.
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and why gold? >> i believe everybody's inside is pure. i hope it is. >> reporter: the health care chaplainsy is putting up a new building in new york. kahn is doing the artwork. this overcounter will hang on the wall. after hours and hours of sanding and more layering of paint, the installation will be transformed to a lighter tone. >> it incorporates so many elements of our various religious traditions but it transcends all of that as well. >> reporter: that is why the president of the chaplainsy chose kahn because his work takes people to another place. >> you have to believe that god moves through the artist in the way that god moves through a writer or poet or whatever. what i think his art does for those who view it.
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people come to it at a place in their journey, and it takes them to where they need to go in that process of discovery. it is a tran-cendant experience. it takes you from here to wherever. >> reporter: kahn who describes himself as a spiritual rather than a religious artist says beauty is inextrickably linked to holiness. >> we are created in the likeness of god. i believe in that. and when i see something beautiful, i -- something happens to me. and i would call that a holiness. and i want my work to do that. >> reporter: he started painting what is called end of life art eight years ago when his mother was dying of pancreatic cancer. she had loved flowers, but as she weakened, she could no longer stand their smell. >> i brought in one drawing that i had that was a flower
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painting. she loved that. and then i subsequently brought more and more images in of flowers. and said she loved looking around the room and seeing life. it really influenced my in a very deep way. and then after she died, i decided this is something i could do in her memory. >> reporter: kahn's flower paintings hold in the hallways of the hospice in riverdale, new york. sally is with the united jewish appe appeal. >> you know, nature and the environment have a positive impact on someone who's ill or at end of life. when you see scenes from nature, there's a, almost a oneness that comes about that somehow that this is a circle that's going to be completed. and so i think it helps with that level of acceptance and
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that understanding that this is a natural process of life. >> reporter: that simple gift to his mother has evolved into a demand for his end of life work. like all his work, it is a labor-intensive process. he uses layers and layers of jesso and paint. there are layers of glaze. how long does it take him? >> i come up with something, and i think of it and i think how am i going to show this to the world. and sometimes it takes three years. sometimes it takes ten years. >> reporter: for the 61 year old kahn, the objects he creates are meant to celebrate divinity. all of this comes from a hebrew word where work is combined with worship. >> i don't believe i do this work on my own. i believe in god. so i believe it's god. but whatever it is, i definitely believe when i'm working there's something else going on.
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the icon painter prays every day over those anythingments, prays over the brushes. you're called to do something. and not every painter sees this. and that's why painters that do this kind of work see their life and their mission. >> reporter: kahn's work doesn't preach. he's not trying to impose his beliefs. and if someone who sees his work comes away with an impression entirely different than what tobi kahn had in mind, that, he says, is perfectly all right. >> i want the viewer to bring his or her own experiences to the conversation. >> reporter: kahn uses the same approach, not just in single objects, but for large installations like this 9/11 memorial. the paintings in this milwaukee synagogue, and the chapel at the hospice. here he created the furniture, designed the seating area and chose the textures and colors of
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the whole installation for people approach being the end of life. his work is designed to bring comfort and peace. >> tobi has a sense of how to put what is in his soul. there's a hebrew word. to use that soul and bring it forth and put it in a visible form of a painting or a sculpture. >> reporter: kaplan says tobi kahn's work helps those who are dying heal. >> you don't normally think of healing at end of life because we think of healing as physical healing. but in fact, healing can happen at the end of life and it's very pro found, very deep. it's coming to terms maybe with your family members. and it's developing a sense of peace about yourself. and i think tobi's art is all about peace. and that journey to finding that
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place of peace. and that's very, relevant to people at the end of life. that's what all of us hope for, for our loved ones. >> reporter: and that peace is what tobi is trying to achieve where he puts in 12 to 14 hour workdays. >> when you see something that touches you, you can enter the painting. i want my work to be that aid to take you on that journey. >> reporter: to that sacred space? >> to the place that where is one comfort. >> reporter: tobi kahn's work is anchored among earthly things but pointing endlessly upward. this is bob faw in long island city, new york. that's our program for now. i'm bob abernethy. you can follow us on twitter and facebook and watch us anytime on
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the pbs app for iphones and ipads. you can watch longer interviews and find a link to more of artist tobi kahn's work. join us at pbs.org. as we leave you, more scenes of pope francis in brazil.
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barry kibrick: today on "between the lines," how we can turn the clock back and reverse our biological age with lauren kessler. welcome, i'm barry kibrick. lauren is a journalist and directs the graduate program in narrative journalism at the university of oregon. her past investigative endeavors have ranged from a study of alzheimer's to dealing with teenage daughters. with her latest book, "counterclockwise," lauren takes us on a journey to turn back her own biological clock while teaching us all how to keep fit and have a youthful mindset even in our later years. linda ellerbee: i'm a writer today because i was a reader when i was 11 years old, and it was... deepak chopra: you do not need

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